Split among Democrats Favors Trump Reelection

Tension between radicals and moderates in the Democratic Party undermines the plan to defeat the current president in the November presidential election.

Last week was one of the best for Donald Trump since he assumed the presidency a little more than three years ago. Recently acquitted by the Senate after suffering impeachment in the House, Trump has shown that he firmly controls the Republican Party. Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, had the courage to state the obvious: The American president committed an abuse of power by using his office to obtain personal gain while he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of Joe Biden, one of his potential rivals in the November election. The decision by the Senate not to even invite witnesses to testify before absolving the president was a signal to Trump that he now has practically nothing to fear, even if it were revealed that he committed other violations. Never before have the famous checks and balances – checks and balances in the American political system – been so weakened. The United States took one more step toward an imperial presidency, to use the concept coined by historian Arthur Schlesinger.

None of this seems to have affected Trump’s image. A Gallup poll revealed that 49% of Americans approve of the president, one of the highest percentages since he took office. (According to one Reuter’s poll, there is 42% approval, and another poll by the Economist/YouGov showed an approval rate of 41%.) Trump knows that, since World War II, only three out of 12 presidents who sought reelection lost: Gerald Ford in 1976: Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992. With the United States in a solid economic situation, Trump is the great favorite for reelection on Nov. 3.

There is visible anguish among the Democratic strategists. Even though the outcome of the impeachment process was anticipated, it produced a type of state of shock in the opposition. Many fear an escalation of authoritarianism if Trump is reelected, and believe that a new Republican mandate would reverse the advances in social welfare in the last decade, such as the legalization of abortion. Among members of the Democratic campaigns, many predict that the current president, empowered by reelection, will adopt even more radical positions in his second term, such as occurred with the autocrats Hugo Chavez, Recip Tayyip Erdogan and Viktor Orban, in Venezuela, Turkey and Hungary, respectively.

However, the principal reason for Trump being the favorite to win in November is not his ability to control his party (something about which various leaders express shame, off the record, when commenting on the performance of the president), nor the stable economic situation in the U.S. The principal advantage of the businessman and former TV star is an opposition party so divided that it has failed to present a coherent strategy for defeating Trump nine months from now. The Democratic Party is profoundly divided between a progressive wing which believes that the American political and economic system has flaws that require profound adjustments, and a centrist wing, which sees the Trump phenomenon as an aberration, and dreams of returning to the days of Barack Obama.

The progressive wing, led by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren, mobilizes the young and urban voters. However, it is showing itself to be distant from the suburban voters who fear radical change and who have now voted as much for Republicans as for Democrats. The centrist wing, in turn, tends to back Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, still profoundly influenced by the ideas of Obama, who present themselves as attractive to the suburban voters, a valuable slice of the electorate, who once voted for Trump. However, the centrists are having difficulty in mobilizing young progressives in the cities, many of whom stayed home when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

The best example of this division is Buttigeig, who did surprisingly well in the Iowa caucuses. He is the first openly gay candidate with a real chance of gaining the nomination. He has support among the centrists, but attracts little sympathy from supporters of the radical wing of the Democratic Party. In fact, he may be the candidate, but he is hated among progressives. They see him as a poorly disguised representative of the old elite, who gained excessive power in the American political system. In this sense, the fact that Buttigieg studied at Harvard and worked at the consulting firm of McKinsey has a negative impact on his image before this wing.

Just a little more than half of Sanders’ supporters said that they would vote for any other Democratic candidate in the general election. If all of Sanders’ supporters in the 2016 primaries had supported Clinton in the general election against Trump, she would have been president today. If they belonged to the Brazilian political system or the majority of European systems, the two wings of the American Democratic Party would be very different parties. In this context, the current debate in the Democratic Party about who should be their candidate becomes less relevant; whether a representative of the Sanders wing or the Biden wing and Buttigieg.

In the end, from an electoral point of view, the only chance for the Democratic Party to regain the White House is to choose a candidate who is sufficiently inspiring to produce the necessary voter mobilization among progressives and urban centrists and, at the same time, who is not too radical in a way that draws the suburban electorate in the 10 competitive states, the states that voted for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama and, four years earlier, for Trump. Unless the Democratic Party’s nominee at the July convention has this profile, as Obama did in 2008, the Democrats will have little chance of victory. Thus, it will be four more years of Trump in the White House.

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About Jane Dorwart 201 Articles
BA Anthroplogy. BS Musical Composition, Diploma in Computor Programming. and Portuguese Translator.

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